While department and variety stores still dominate the share of the online wallets in Australia, responsible for 34 per cent of total online spending, food and groceries are rising from a current base of 15 per cent to challenge second-ranked homewares and appliances, which account for 16 per cent of all online sales.
“And we know from deep diving [into the research] that itâ€™s liquor - older Australians are disproportionate in food and liquor - so whereas the category makes up 15 per cent of total online sales, but for 65s and older its 28 per cent of their [online] spend,” he said.
The latest National Australia Bank Online Retail Sales Index shows shoppersâ€™ enthusiasm for clicking on their laptops, iPhones or tablets to buy a box of fruit or case of wine helped drive a 15. 9 per cent increase in online sales for the 12 months to July.
Last week, Woolworths highlighted its online arm as a “new growth division” when it reported its fiscal 2014 financial results, with the supermarket group recording online sales of more than $1. 2 billion for the year, up 50 per cent.
Woolworths and Colesâ€™ decision to plough tens of millions of dollars into enhancing their online capabilities is finding fertile ground, with groceries and liquor clocking up faster growth for online sales than any other retail category.
According to NAB, for the year to July total online sales grew by 8. 6 per cent to reach $15. 6 billion, with online sales now equivalent to about 6. 6 per cent of traditional retail spending, up from 6. 3 per cent for the same time last year.
It made the groceries and liquor category the fastest-growing segment, ahead of department and variety stores, which saw online sales expand by 11. 5 per cent.
NAB head of retail sector Tiernan White said the growth of online sales for the groceries and liquor category was bolstered by the major retailers competing strongly for shoppers, as well as the ease and comfort of buying online.
The super-charged growth in grocery sales comes as the two leading supermarket chains, Woolworths and Coles, devote increasing capital and resources to build up their omni-channel infrastructure to grab a greater slice of online shopping.
It is older Australians, aged over 65, who are doing much of the heavy lifting, especially when it comes to alcohol sales, with that age group spending more on beer, wine and spirits online than younger Australians.
Read more here: SMH